Nashville ranks tenth best city for construction workers, more skilled laborers needed

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Despite an improving economy, a new analysis shows construction employment declined in more than 200 metropolitan areas across the country.

But not in Nashville-Davidson County, where the number of jobs is growing. In fact, a new report from IPP Magazine places Nashville in the top ten cities with the highest demand for construction workers.

Recently, the National Association of Realtors said they believe Nashville will become a top 10 market for commercial construction in 2021.

But, this demand for development comes with consequences. Experts say we need to train more people if we want to keep this construction going.

Nashville building permits continue piling in, proof building here is robust.

“Nashville slides in at number 10 on our list,” Thomas O’Shaughnessy of IPP Magazine writes in his latest analysis. “Despite only having 1,580 building permits issued in February, Nashville is booming.”

According to Cumming Insights, Nashville’s overall construction market grew more than ten percent in 2020.

“What we have seen over the last several years is a lot of companies expanding into the Nashville market,” Dennis Georgatos said, Executive Vice President at General Manager, Skanska USA’s Nashville office.

Construction Dive calls Nashville “a small-but-mighty construction boomtown” and IPP Magazine is taking note. Nashville’s top ten ranking for construction looks at work opportunity, demand, pay, and cost of living.

Graphic from IPP Magazine

“We weighed the demand for construction workers the most because we felt that was the most relevant because if the demand remains high and supply remains low, you should be able to negotiate for higher salaries, get more work, all the important things construction workers would care about,” O’Shaughnessy said.

What continues to be a challenge though is finding enough skilled workers in town.

In 2020, Clay Crownover, president and CEO of the Greater Tennessee Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors said the industry needs nearly 186,000 workers from across all professional levels just to meet the current backlog in Tennessee.

Dennis Georgatos with Skanska wants the state to continue investing in STEM programs and pushing two-year degrees and apprenticeship-type programs that help train workers for the industry.

“What we don’t want to hear from a subcontractor is where going to come into Nashville and hire locally the fact of the matter is that workforce isn’t available,” Georgatos said. “It is a good field, a growing field, and like you said with more and more projects planned I think it’s going to continue being a strong labor market opportunity for construction workers in the Nashville market.”

Data from Cumming Insights shows construction spending in Nashville had far exceeded the rest of the country since 2013, and it’s expected to continue to grow well into the future.

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